A SHOP that sells a world-famous Cumbrian delicacy is facing its toughest challenge yet as it struggles to recruit new staff.

It has survived two world wars, a royal abdication, countless recessions, foot and mouth, Storm Desmond, a major road closure for six months and the Covid pandemic but Grasmere Gingerbread® is being severely impacted by Cumbria’s crippling staffing shortage.

“We’ve always rewarded our staff with higher salaries and thoughtful working conditions,” said Joanne Hunter, co-director of the 167-year-old business.

“So much so, two members of staff have now been working for us for 32 years.”

However, with many businesses in the Lake District competing for fewer and fewer people after Brexit and Covid, Grasmere Gingerbread® is now offering candidates even more incentives to fill five roles at the business.

These include subsidised travel, higher hourly rates of pay, cash bonuses, health insurance, free parking, an extra day’s pay on birthdays and discounts on shopping and leisure activities in Cumbria.

Mike Thompson, a former branch manager for a major bank who recently joined Grasmere Gingerbread® as a baker, said: “It is far less stressful, I have been warmly welcomed by my colleagues and there is a fantastic team spirit and banter that carries you through the day.”

The popular attraction is rarely without a queue of people waiting patiently outside the shop to buy Victorian baker Sarah Nelson’s spicy-sweet creation, which is a cross between a biscuit and cake.

“We are now facing increased competition for staff from business across the board in the region who are really struggling to fill vacancies and are having to close some days of the week,” added Ms Hunter.

“We are working really hard to recruit staff and not disappoint visitors to our shop as they often make special one-off journeys from all over the country and if we were closed you can imagine their disappointment.

“We are normally only closed three days a year.”

“The lockdowns have already forced us to shut our door for 33 weeks out of 54 and rely upon mail order so we feel we have been closed long enough. We did have customers turning up only to see our famous green door closed.

“We currently have five vacancies and are committed to staying open to keep production rolling for our customers whatever the difficulties behind the scenes.”

Visit www.grasmeregingerbread.co.uk/page/employment to see the latest job openings.